Page images

they have every reason to believe that it cannot exceed six hundred pages in each language, and that it will probably be comprised in a smaller number;-ard for obvious reasons, they recommend that it should be published in each language separately. The question as to the best form for the publication has engaged the attention of the commissioners; and in selecting the royal octavo, they have been guided as well by the general preference shown by the profession for books in that form, as by the fact, that the revised statutes of the several legislatures in the United States which have come under their notice are published in it. The commissioners have selected the revised statutes of Massachusetts for their immediate model, as affording on the whole the best specimen of size, printing and arrangement.

At the same time that the octavo form and the type chosen, are more convenient than the quarto form and the type now used in printing the laws, they have also the advantage of being cheaper; for although the charge for the composition will be the same, the cost of the paper, an item of no small consequence when a large number of copies are to be printed, will be greatly reduced.

It would have been possible to commence the reprint now recommended at the same time with the publication of the tables, but it would have been impossible to complete it before the commencement of the present session. The commissioners held it to be of great importance, that the work should contain the laws as they stood at some one definite period; and if the printing had been begun before the session, the work would not only have been deficient on this point, but as the laws which may be repealed during the session must have been inserted, there is every probability that greatly increased expense would have been added to inaccuracy. They have ascertained that by commencing it as early as possible after the close of the session, they will be able to complete it before the opening of the next, if the recess be of the ordinary length.

If to the publication in question there could be added a reprint of such parts of the custom of Paris as are still in force in Lower Canada, with an English version sufficiently clear to make the provisions of the custom intelligible to those unacquainted with the French language, the value of the work would be considerably enhanced; but much care, time and labour would be requisite in preparing this addition, and the commissioners fear that it could Dot be got ready so early as not to retard the publication. It seems very desirable that some means should be adopted for making the civil law of Lower Canada accessible to the English portion of the population. It is not within the province of the commissioners to discuss the best means of doing this, or to enter upon the subject of codification ; but they have been induced to make this suggestion from their conviction, that the prejudice entertained by many to the civil law of Lower Canada, arises solely from their want of the means of obtaining that general knowledge of its provisions, which it is desirable to place within the reach of every man with regard to the law by which he is bound, but which, under existing circumstances, it is impossible for any inhabitant of Lower Canada to acquire, unless he be intimately acquainted with the French language. The same difficulty existed, and to a certain extent still exists, with regard to the criminal law,

for those unacquainted with the English language. That dilliculty has in a great measure been removed by the excellent and comprehensive consolidaation of a very considerable and most important portion of that law, contained in the statutes of the first session of the parliament of Canada : but other parts of the English law are in force in Lower Canada ; and it is still true, that two systems of law exist there, each of which, by reason of the language in which it is written, is inaccessible to a large portion of the people whom it binds.

The whole nevertheless respectfully submitted for Your Excellency's consideration.


Kingston, 24th November, 1843.

Their second report having been approved, the commissioners, after the close of the Session of 1843, lost no time in continuing the revision by ascertaining and noting the effect of the acts of that session on those of Lower Canada, and in preparing the copy for the printer.

In the month of January, 1844, they were deprived by death of the further assistance of their able and zealous associate Mr. Heney, who in this as in all of the many public duties in which he had been engaged, had spared no labour to render his eminent talents of service to his country.

In March, 1814, the copy being ready for the printer, the commissioners were directed to report on the most expeditious and economical mode of printing the work in a manner consistent with its character and nature, and having communicated with the Queen's Printer they reported a proposed arrangement, which being approved, they received the order to commence printing, on the 27th March, 1844.

From that time the work has continued regularly and with all the expedition consistent with correctness, excepting only the unavoidable interruption occasioned by the removal of the Seat of Government from Kingston to Montreal.

Before the commencement of the session in November, 1844, the text of the English version had been completed, with a brief index, copies had been distributed to the Judges and other public officers to whom they were especially requisite, and the printing of the French version was advanced to about four hundred pages. As it was found impossible to complete the general index before the commencement of the session, or early during its progress, it was thought better to defer it until the close, when the acts passed and their effect would be known. The printing of the French version was continued

and is now nearly completed; but the great press of work thrown upon the Queen's Printer in printing the acts of last session, amounting to upwards of six hundred pages in each language, has necessarily somewhat retarded the Revised Statutes.

In the form and extent of the work as recommended by the Commissioners in their second report, no change has been made, except that a type has been adopted a little larger than that used in the Tables. It was found that this could be done without any considerable increase of expense or of bulk, while the facility of reading would be considerably increased.

Acts of a merely private nature have been omitted, (as suggested in the report,) nor does it appear that any adequate advantage could be attained by reprinting them at the public expense.-An exception has been made in favor of the Quebec Bank ordinance (2 Vict. (3.) c. 24.) partly because toere is now no place in the Province of which the inhabitants may not become in some way interested in its provisions, and partly because it is the only bank law of Lower Canada remaining in force, and the Revised Statutes and the acts of Canada will now contain all the enactinents in force relative to banking institutions in Lower Canada.

Local acts have been abbreviated in those parts which are of purely local effect, but the substance of these is given, while every enactment interesting the public at large (as those by which the Province guarantees loans, &c.,) is inserted entire. The ordinances incorporating Quebec and Montreal are given at full length on account of the magnitude of the interests they affect; but as by far the greater number of sections in those relating to each city, are almost word for word the same, these sections are printed but once, and the differences only between them and the corresponding sections of the other ordinances are noted. By this arrangement much space has been saved ; and one of the objects of the Commissioners throughout, has been to reduce the bulk of the volume so far as should be consistent with its utility. By om tting the formal enacting clause alone, in each act, upwards of fifty pages of useless repetition have been avoided. The preamble is always printed entire and if any part, however small, of a section is in force the whole section is inserted, except only in those cases where the substance is given in italics. The titles of acts cited in others are for the most part abbreviated for the sake of saving room, but the title can be readily supplied by turning to the act cited.

The acts empowering the ministers of different religious denominations to solemnize marriage, &c., have been inserted (tho’in a condensed form) because the titles to property or other rights of any party, tho' not a member of the denomination, may depend upon the validity of some act performed by its minister. The repealed acts relative to the registration of titles to property have been inserted for the reasons mentioned in the second report.

The form and preparation of the general index have been the object of much care and attention. It would be easy to compile an index to a work of this kind which should bear a large proportion in bulk to the text itself. But in the present instance it was held desirable to be as brief as should be compatible with facility of reference. The classified arrangement of the laws, and their being all contained in the same volume with the index made the task easier. Under the larger titles it appeared unnecessary to do more than refer to the pages where the laws relative to the subject would be found; and this also seemed sufficient when any title formed the main subject of an act or acts : to have done more would only have been to insert the substance of the marginal notes in nearly the same order in which they stand in the body of the work, and the notes themselves can be looked through with equal readiness, and with greater advantage from their standing by the side of the text itself, to which instant reference can be made. The chief care appeared requisite with regard to incidental provisions upon matters not forming the main subject of an act, and for which therefore it would not obviously occur to the reader to search in it. The plan of the former indexes was therefore abandoned, and the work performed on the principles above mentioned. Under each of the larger titles the act or acts relating to it are briefly referred to, and the incidental and less obvious provisions are mentioned under the heads to which they immediately relate. Thus under the head “ Registration of Titles, &c.,” the whole ordinance in force is referred to, while its incidental provisions are mentioned under the heads of “ Dower, Married Women, Husbands, Tutors, &c. &c.”—These minor heads are accordingly very numerous, (much more so indeed than in the four parts of the former Index taken together,) and no word has been willingly omitted under which it was supposed likely that any provision would be sought for. The labour of preparing and examining the index was greatly increased by the adoption of this form, but it is hoped that the facility of reference and condensation attained will be found commensurate with it.

The table of acts and ordinances not inserted, was deemed requisite to complete the work. Its object and construction are explained in a note prefixed to it. With very few exceptions no act is inserted under more than one head, and a law may not be found under that which is first referred to, but the table is sufficiently brief to enable it to be looked entirely through without much labour.

The table last mentioned comes down to the present time, and the commissioners are engaged in continuing the “ Tables relative to the acts and ordinances of Lower Canada," to the same date.

With this their labours will necessarily close, for the powers granted by their commission do not, and indeed could not consistently with the resolution of the Assembly, extend further. In their second report they have made some suggestions which may possibly lead to a continuation of the work thus commenced, but these suggestions cannot be acted upon without the sanction of the proper authorities. The perpetually changing current of legislation has already swept away some few of the laws inserted in this volume, and before many years have passed, the greater part of them will probably be superseded by acts consolidating and amending their enactments, (and to the perfection of this new legislation it is hoped this work may contribute something,) but there are many wise and valuable enactments which will long continue to form part of the statute law of Lower Canada.

To His Excellency the Governor General, the members of the Executive Council, to Mr. Johnson, the Secretary to the Commission, to the Queen's Printer, and to every other public functionary to whom they have had occasion to apply for instructions, assistance or information, the undersigned take this occasion to offer their acknowledgments for the uniform and kind attention and support they have received.


G. W. WICKSTEED. Montreal, 1st July, 1845.

« PreviousContinue »